Headstart is a well-established education programme run by the Engineering Development Trust (EDT). It gives participants a taster of what it would be like to study Aerospace Engineering at university and to experience student life, as they stay in the student accommodation on campus.
The students spent five days at the University where they worked in teams of five to re-design an aircraft usually used for basic flight training to one that is able to compete in a virtual Red Bull air race around a Liverpool race course.
The students undertook a number of traditional lectures, lab classes and simulator sessions supported by a test pilot and University graduates, PhD students or current undergraduates. The lab classes were typical of those that undergraduates take and for fun they had a first-hand experience of flying a helicopter around a race track in one of the motion simulators.
The students were encouraged to think about their future careers in a session led by Liverpool graduates now working in Easyjet, Jet2, BAE Systems, GE Aviation and the MoD.
The students also visited different parts of the University’s School of Engineering to see what other interesting work is undertaken by the students including formula student, the Arion bike and also some of the unique research University facilities including the water channel, SLM machines and blast chamber. The students presented their work on the final day in front of academic staff, parents and each other and feedback from the week has been very positive.
Three of the Headstart girls stayed on to lead a very successful Widening Participation event for 40 local Year 9 girls from Gateacre School, Hillside High and North Liverpool Academy. The students carried out a number of design, build and test activities supported by the Headstart girls and female undergraduate students from the School of Engineering. The event was aimed at encouraging the Yr9 students to take-up STEM events in their later studies and was supported through the EDT’s Dragonfly scheme.
Dr Mark White, who organised the Headstart programme at Liverpool, said: “Each year the students produce high quality work and this year was no exception. I have to thank our graduates who helped to make this year better than ever through their support as mentors and acting as role models in the careers session. They showed the students the exciting opportunities available to them in a career in aerospace engineering or as a commercial pilot.
“There are now Liverpool graduates who took part in Headstart working at the Ministry of Defence, Accenture and QinetiQ and having them coming back to talk to the Headstart students is a big help in informing the students about future careers prospects.”